Hiking matters #15: Agony in Anawangin

UPDATE: Today (Wednesday, June 25) it was learned that Sir Thads’ body has been found 90 kms N of Pundaquit in Hermana Mayor island. He would have celebrated his 32nd birthday today. (from Sir Cecil of AMCI)

MINATO-KU, TOKYO – We enter a sad week, left behind by typhoon ‘Frank’ (Fengshen), a menace that swept away lives. As I write this, the search for survivors aboard M/V Princess of the Stars continue. Just within sight of Mt. Guiting-Guiting in Sibuyan Island lay the vessel; it has not capsized and neither should our hopes and yet we know that tragedies do happen and the frailty of life gets exposed when storms wash away the embellishments and joys of living. More than 700 missing. We have also heard that the island of Sibuyan has been devastated by the typhoon.

In Zambales, we have been told that mountaineers Jhoana Pimentel and Thaddeus Reantaso, belonging to the AMCI , together with guest climber Joseph Pelarca were swept away while crossing a swollen river in Mt. Pundaquit yesterday (Sunday) at the height of the storm. They were part of a team of 12 that made a recon at Anawangin Cove and were already on the way back when the mishap took place.

Of the three that were swept away, the bodies of Ma’am Jhoana and Sir Anjo have been found within 24 hours of the incident. Meanwhile, it has been learned on Wednesday (June 25) that Sir Thads’ body was found. He would have celebrated his 32nd birthday today. The rest made it back safely.

We in the mountaineering community share the sorrow of this tragedy, though no words can make up for this loss. Let us pray for peace and comfort for the family and friends of the three.

Likewise, we pray for the all casualties of this typhoon; their families and their friends. Having grown up in Mt. Makiling, the inevitable consequence of storms for us were blackouts, interruption of water supply, no classes, trees falling, and garage roofs flying but we know the reality that storms can cause much greater damage. Some of the mountaineering accidents we’ve heard from the past were also due to storms.

Yet we are a strong people who has braved worse times. We know this, and have faith, that soon, very soon, the clouds will disappear, and the sun will shine again. The gloom of rain will give way to the cheer of blue skies. But even then we will always remember the people we’ve shared adventures and lives with. No matter how distant from them we are, we are one community and one people. The next time the skies clear up and we get to climb a mountain, let us give time to pause and remember.

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24 Comments on "Hiking matters #15: Agony in Anawangin"

14 years 7 months ago

Just last Saturday, Aug. 29, one of our tour coordinators and her 13yr old niece were swept away by one of the rivers in Anawangin while we were on our way to our inn from the trekking. Until now, their bodies have not been recovered yet. Let's all pray for their safety.

15 years 8 months ago

it still makes me cry, just reading posts about this anawangin incident. personally, jhoana and tads are my friends from the club and still I CAN’T BELIEVE they’re gone (physically).

thank you to everyone’s prayers for them and anjo and their families.

thank you to the groups who helped in the search, rescue and recovery. in addition to upm and ust, angeles mountaineers also generously gave their time and support in the team effort.

-joyce p.

15 years 9 months ago


The passing away of our fraternity brother, friend, and my one and only batchmate Thaddeus “Tadz” Reantaso marked an outpour of sympathies and flood of comforting messages. I hope people won’t get me wrong, I am dearly grateful for these expressions of sympathies and its good intentions. But as much I would want to appreciate kind words for Tadz now and appreciate people texting and saying to me “there is a greater purpose or plan” or words like “he died for a good cause,” I cannot achieve to see the glory in his death if there is any. There is no glory here except tragedy. I respect people when they would like to view this unfortunate event as a glass half-full rather than half-empty, to see the brighter side of things. But for those who still feel the loss and would like to mourn, then let them mourn.

Right now I’m asking myself, “why would Tadz engage in mountaineering?”, “Why would he join an outreach program?” Someone told me during the wake that probably that’s where he found his further enlightenment. Im sure people feel good helping and connecting to other people. Although I remember him telling me when I joined a similar group during college, that such welfare endeavors are not sustainable, that it could be just for guilt-washing purposes. Maybe he changed in that aspect (I’m glad that he did). Im not sure if he found his god there or found answers to his existentialist questions, surely the mountains and the experience of climbing it is truly breathtaking aside from the fact that it is highly conducive for sex, booze, doobies and other forms of bourgeoisie adventurism. I cannot hide my obvious angry inquiries on his intentions. If he is alive now, i would tell him, “You want to find enlightenment? You need not go far! Just look at the side streets of Manila, bro’. There you will find a mountain full of our society’s trash and it’s up to your conscience to climb and conquer it or not. You’ll find it not in an escapist and adventurist exploit in the wilderness but in the center of our daily urban dwellings. There the truth awaits you! And it awaits your decision to do something sustainable about it or turn around and walk away.” But I’m sure he knows that already. He had a better grasp of social reality long before I did. So I guess I’m telling this to him because I am partly guilty of apathy and because I badly wanted him to be safe and alive right now.

As my grief is settling down, i try to find objectivity in a mesh of rage that i am experiencing. I struggle to see through the eyes of everybody who have known Tadz in varying degrees. I try to understand the different levels of grief and guilt (if there is, to some people) so as to avoid prejudice. But my heart is crying for one thing here – THE TRUTH!

What really transpired during that moment when his team was crossing that river? What exactly happened? Is there a rope that the team could have used to assist them in crossing the river? If there is, why didnt they use it? What are the protocols and S.O.P.s when there is a typhoon? Should mountaineers proceed with the climb even if the typhoon signal is low or the affected area of typhoon is far? Whose call is it to proceed? Whose call is it not use the rope? Tadz dont know how to swim. Was it not a prerequisite in joining mountaineering clubs since crossing rivers is an integral part of trekking the mountains? Was there anyway to prevent such tragedy from taking place and taking the lives of people???!!!!!!!!!!!!! And finally, was it enough to say that people never wanted such thing to happen?

I am sure that if such tragedy fell on me or to you, Tadz will be writing here, unapologetic for razor-sharp words that he normally lashes out and throw everything including the kitchen sink God knows who gets hit! I’m sure it’s going to be a lot better than this “child-friendly”, edited down version of what I originally wrote (puro mura kasi yung original).

As much as i want to bury the dead and let my batchmate-brod and his companions rest, I cannot turn away from the urge of getting to the truth. The truth cannot bring back the dead, i know, but it can help reassure not just mountaineers, but rowing teams, surfing groups, and other outdoor activity club members, people with similar families and friends that may grieve their loss if ever, of their safety and compel organizations to be more proactive in protecting lives. I am sure that we are all one in wishing that such tragedy will not befall other people especially those close to us. Outdoor and recreational groups must take concrete steps including ADMITTING OPERATIONAL LAPSES AND RECTIFYING THEM.

Now i call on everyone who has even a tiny grain of regards for TADZ, to those who openly express their utmost admiration and respect for this fallen friend, to come out, FREE the TRUTH, and let true healing take place.

The truth must come out. Justice must be done. Lives must be further protected.

-James C. Hermogenes
Fraternity Batchmate/Brod, friend

15 years 9 months ago

condolences to the families and loved ones of Mr. Reantaso, Miss Pimentel, and Mr. Pelarca. may they find happiness and liberation where they are now. may all beings be happy and at peace!

15 years 9 months ago